22 September 2009

Blood, Sweat and 24 Gears

My younger brother was visiting from Kyushu for the long weekend and being a fan of the mud, dirt and the escalated danger of being attacked by Japanese Super Hornets brought his MTB with him, he was also kind enough to transport my KONA AA Custom race frame with him when the company moved him to Japan.

After building up my frame and putting some big fat knobberlies on it (That felt like they would roll off the rims on ever turn and fixing the chain after it snapped on the first climb 10 minutes into our ride) we headed out to see if we could find the missing trails.

For those that don’t know I live in Yokohama near ZooRasia and there are hiking trails that link the station to the zoo. Now according to legend there are many more that link together the green belts around here and apparently make up over 30km of un-spoilt off road riding, so I and my brother went in search of the missing trials.

After following the known course we found ourselves in the usual residential area with no signs or indication of where we needed to be so we decided to have a ride around to see if we could find where the trail picked up again. Fortunately as we took a right turn into what looked like a promising route two old ladies shouted at us “no left, left “ low and behold 200 meters later we found the trial. Now this might seem easy enough but the first trial picks up behind someone’s house and you need to ride partially down their driveway to get to it.

The trial we found is located just opposite ZOORASIA in the huge woods that over look the main entrance, these are total un-spoilt and it seems that the old government didn’t know about them as they have no cement pathways or cement log climbs/descents to ruin the ride, also it seems that the locals have no interest in them as we only met 3 other people on the trails.

The trials were a nice mix of fire roads and very technical single track and involved perfect timing and bike handling as you weaved through the trees. We decided to follow the outer edge of the course to see just how far it went. It was very hard not to stray off down some of the pathways that branched off.

After around 10km of riding we burst out on to another road and we consulted with another local to find out if the trails picked up again in the forest behind his farm or if it was private land. No normally you are met with “Hmmmmm ahhh chotto ne…….hmmm ahhhhh wakaranai!” but in this instance the farmer gave us very clear instructions on how to get back on the trail, not only one route but two!

So having thanked him we headed off again in search of the entrance point for the forest, again unless we had clear instructions there is no chance we would have found the entrance point as this time you had to slip behind a crash barrier at the side of the road and up an over grown path in to more farm land. Once on the farm land we spotted a sign that gave us directions on where we needed to be heading… why this couldn’t have been on the road I have no idea, but this sign was 100 meters up the path hidden from view.

Again the trial was un-spoilt and weaved through bamboo grooves and forest paths switching between single track and fire roads. We decided again to stick to the outside trails that went around the outside of the forest again to see how long the ride was and thus giving us an idea of the types of rides we could put together. Finally we emerged on the road in Midori Ward very close to Nakayama Station and with my Brothers train leaving early afternoon we decided to take the road back home and save riding the internal tracks for another time.

All in all an awesome off road course free of all the trappings found on other hiking trails with only a few of the steep climbs staircased and very, quiet! If there are any other MTB riders out there I would be more than happy to show you the access points to the trails.


video

2 comments:

David L. said...

James:

Great that you could find singletrack in the midst of Yokohama. Who would have thought it? At the end of your video, what is that large thing behind your brother -- looks like a large animal trap, or maybe a frame that is supposed to have a tarp draped over it?

Everytime I have been near a popular singletrack, I always see an ambulance with paramedics and someone getting carried off to the emergency room or the orthopedist ... so I got terrified and sold my mountain bike long ago. Hope we will get to ride together soon on the road.

Best, David L.

James said...

Hey David,

The frame work is part of a "Natural Art" exibition in the middle of the forest, kind of odd as I would actually prefer that they left the tree as a tree.

The course that we found is fantastic though with a good mix of single track and fire roads with technical and breezing sections mixed up, so makes for enjoyable riding for all levels.

As for accidents its why i was out of cycling for 3-4 years as my right knee got very personal with a tree resulting in surgery to put is all back together again.

Needless to say it's done nothing for my mental state as Im morethan happy to throw myself down moutains regardless of them being paved or not.